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Adventure Bloggers You Should Follow

I’m ever more heartened as I see so many people heading outdoors and unplugging from technology — even as the impact on our sacred wild places has become a bit greater with the sharing of those places on Instagram.

There are a lot of voices out there — the Instafamous to follow, the hardcore climbers to inspire you, and the regular people just like you and I who’ve found that nature is where they feel most alive. All of them have something to offer to help guide you to your own adventures outside. These are the ones I’m loving lately:

  • Bearfoot Theory – Kristen has been at this for quite some time and I find her guides to specific places to be spot on. Earlier this year, I took a two-week trip to visit several desert national parks and her guide to Zion and hiking The Narrows was the best resource for planning that leg of my trip. She truly embodies what I love most about getting outside and that is a pure joy for nature and outdoor adventure. It’s infectious in the most authentic way possible and if you follow one adventurer, she’s the one I recommend highest. I promise you will be inspired and will find a way to get outside more often by following her story.
  • Dirtbag Darling – Johnie is a great writer. As a lit major and someone who wrote about books for many years (hello LitLifeLA, my defunct litblog + LAist), I really appreciate beautiful prose. It’s a rarity in the adventure blogging space so I appreciate her site that much more. She spends most of her time in a Sprinter Van (#vanlife etc) and shares her thoughts on the beautiful places and adventures she encounters. She surfs and climbs and hikes and is up for any new adventure. There’s no way for you to follow her and not get inspired to try something new outdoors. Truth.
  • The Morning Fresh – Katie Boué is so passionate about the outdoors and that oozes into everything she touches. Follow her on Instagram and read her blog to get a peek into a life that truly celebrates all the little moments, including the many spent outdoors. Katie is a serious runner and climber and sneaks in all sorts of new sports along the way.
  • Flash Foxy – This is the first climbing site I found as I first started rock climbing that made me feel a little less intimidated and a lot more included. Mountain Project is the obvious go-to when checking out routes for an upcoming climb and they have several great posts from well-known climbers, but these ladies have created a place to truly celebrate female climbers and they have a lot of great posts about facing your fears in climbing (something I always need) and they have organized several climbing trips for women. I follow them on Instagram for maximum inspiration.
  • And She’s Dope Too – A collective created to help women pursue adventures in the outdoors and feel supported in doing so. I’ve not gone to any of their events (yet!) but their Instagram feed is a constant source of inspiration — whether it’s climbing, skiing, hiking, running or backpacking. They are a must-follow to get your outdoor mojo on.

Where do you find inspiration for a specific trip outdoors? Would love to know!

(Image of a wonderful day climbing recently at Point Dume, Malibu)

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Opt Outside: Resources for Spending Time in Nature

By now, we’ve all dissected and drooled over and been inspired by (and also as a marketer, I’ve been absolutely blown away by) REI’s fantastic #OptOutside campaign for Black Friday. I was thrilled to see them take such a stand to really encourage us all to spend time not around the TV or dinner table, but outdoors. It’s completely on brand for them so it makes sense – but it echoes what I’ve seen (and as you know, personally experienced) recently about a bigger push to slow things down, step away from our tech and simply be present outdoors.

Since I’ve been doing a lot more of all that, I wanted to share a few of the tools, groups and orgs that are making it ever easier to get outdoors safely either alone, with friends, or with a group of strangers:

  • AllTrails – Invaluable app that allows you to suss out any trail before you go and download it to your phone so you’ve got it even when there is no cell service. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been lost on a trail and when I’ve been disciplined enough to download the app and my hike before I head out, it has always guided me back to my car. Especially good for parks and trails that have multiple routes out or if you are hiking with anyone who consistently asks “are we there yet?”
  • Modern Hiker – Another great resource for finding hikes in your area, which ones allow dogs, what to look out for and what you can expect while you’re on the trail. I especially like the detailed notes for hikes that don’t have a ton of signage. You can tell every writer has actually hiked these hikes so you know you can follow their guidance for a safe hike every time.
  • 52 Hike Challenge – This group, headed by the very inspiring Karla Macador, was started when Karla herself was going through serious life upheaval and change and found the only way through it was hiking. I feel that 100% and have been following along with her challenge to both herself and others to hike once a week in the span of one year. It is an amazing community and I’ve taken up the challenge as well. Check out their site, follow them on Insta, take the challenge and get outside every single week!
  • Outdoor Women’s Alliance – Their entire mission is to empower women worldwide through outdoor adventures. There are local groups in many cities that host regular hikes. This is particularly great if you want to star hiking regularly (hello #52hikechallenge!) but you don’t want to go alone.
  • REI Classes – When I first got back into hiking in a meaningful way, I hiked with friends often. Alone sometimes. But when I’d travel for work and didn’t know the area well, I wanted a group to hike with. Enter REI’s amazing classes and outings offering. You can hike with amazing women, learn to rock climb, kayak, you name it. All for very reasonable prices and all with great guides. Highly, highly recommended to spice things up a bit or gain new outdoor skills.

There are also a ton of amazing outdoor bloggers who I rely on for longer trips away (the best way to get that Mt. Whitney permit, can you really hike Half Dome with the cables down?, what is it like hiking the JMT?) and I’ll be sharing those soon. Would love to know what resources you are relying on as you #optoutside. Let me know!

(Image of a magical sunset at Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree – one of my favorite spots to camp!)

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The Healing Power of Nature

I’ve not made a secret recently of my absolute need to spend as much time in nature as possible. I’ve been dealing with the death of my grandmother and quite a few other intense life things and hiking and backpacking and climbing outdoors heal me in a way nothing else does. Time outside brings me back to myself in a way that I had somehow forgotten for several years as I worked crazy hours and built businesses.

I’ve recently begun to think a lot more about the connection between our health and nature and have sought out as much as I can find on the topic. A few of my favorite recent reads on the subject:

  • This Is Your Brain on Nature – “When we get closer to nature–be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree–we do our overstressed brains a favor.”
  • How Nature Boosts Kindness, Happiness & Creativity – “We are spending more time indoors and online. But recent studies suggest that nature can help our brains and bodies to stay healthy.”
  • The Healing Effects of Forests – “Forests — and other natural, green settings — can reduce stress, improve moods, reduce anger and aggressiveness and increase overall happiness. Forest visits may also strengthen our immune system by increasing the activity and number of natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells.”
  • The Healing Power of Nature – “Too much focused attention can lead to mental fatigue and increased stress. One remedy for this fatigue is exposure to nature.”
  • The Amazing Ways Nature Can Heal You & Make You Feel Your Best – “A growing body of science is showing that nature is good for you. That includes spending time in nature, but it even includes looking at natural scenes out a window.”

This is barely the surface, but these pieces and so many I’ve recently read confirm for me in scientific terms what I’ve been feeling on spiritual terms: nature rocks. Get outside!

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Our Hikes, Our Selves

My home was not a fun one to grow up in. My parents were often preoccupied with abuse – of substances and other people. There was a lot of shouting. A lot of throwing things. A lot of not so safe places for a little girl to hang out and feel ok. My room was one of them, though that sanctuary was often breached by my mother who would enter just long enough to hurl insults about something – my appearance, my body, my “selfish” behavior, the state of my room, the A- instead of the A+.

The only place where all this awfulness seemed to lessen – where for a moment I could hear my own voice and not theirs – was on our backpacking, hiking and camping trips. It was as if nature’s power silenced them. Made them realize what shits they were being. Reminded them of something greater than themselves. I didn’t understand any of that then, but I knew enough to look forward to every outdoor adventure because it would mean less yelling, less fighting, less of all the bad things and so much more of the good.

The great irony is that as much as I loved nature and the outdoors – my adult self associated every camping trip with my family. All the conflict of home and the rare good times experienced only outdoors. It was an odd mix of joy and confusion, longing and fear. I’d camp with friends and loved ones and never quite feel at ease, but wasn’t able to pinpoint the source of my conflicted thoughts. Until recently.

I started hiking again in earnest this year. I started seeking outdoor adventures again. Not as a way to revisit the past, but as the only way I’ve ever known to connect to my own voice. Just as when I was a child. I find the trails allow me to sort out who I am and what I want and what I’m made of and what that means. Hiking and camping and backpacking require you to be fully present yet also in great awe of the beauty around you, which invites you to be even more present. Whether the trail is hard or easy, stunningly beautifully or dusty and dirty with very little “peak” reward, I have been finding myself again this year in the backcountry. It has saved me in a time of great upheaval and I cannot recommend it enough.

I’ve also met incredible people out on the trails and a singular truth has been revealed: we are all out there working through something. Every person you meet on the trail has a story. A reason they are out there. A reason they feel at home there. A reason they need nature in their lives, whether it’s an hour hike or a 60-day trek. I’ve been lucky enough to hear some of these stories. Some of them powerful and some of them sweet. All of them not quite finished. Mine isn’t finished either and I’ll be sharing much more of these trail voices and stories – mine and others – very soon.

Photo from my solo hike to Suicide Rock via Deer Springs Trail in Idyllwild earlier this year.

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Race Brain

La Jolla Half Marathon

There’s one thing that is required to run long distance races. It’s not strong abs, or the optimal leg strength to get up that crazy mile 10 hill (I’m looking at you Nike Women’s Half Marathon), it’s not powerful arms to carry you forward when your legs are beyond tired. All you need is your race brain.

Race brain did not come naturally to me. I’ve had to work hard to cultivate it over the years. I lost it for about a decade and didn’t race at all. Though I’ve recently become re-acquiainted with it, I sometimes lose my race brain right in the middle of a race. But if you can mentally prepare for it, envision yourself finishing it and then negotiate within that brain and dig deep during the tougher parts of any endurance event, you can finish it.

When I’m nearing the last leg of a race, I start assessing the state of my personal nation (how am I feeling? could I run faster? what is my pace? what is my time? am I doing better or worse than before? is that right leg cramp really an issue? where are the bathrooms, just in case? love her nike capris, i need to find those online after the race, should i eat another sports bean? why do i have the chills?) to try and sort out what my finish will look like. Even in all my monkey mind chatter, it always comes down to a single philosophical dilemma: am I holding back? do I have more to give?

You’d think the dilemma would be easily solved. If I have more energy, I should run faster/push harder. And sometimes I do. Other times, I find that even though I have reserve energy to spare, I like where I’m at, I’m feeling good and I don’t want to push farther.

There is something interesting in that moment when you find out that you are not willing to push harder on a given day. Or that you are, even though you are hurting. Or that you are willing to push only a certain amount harder and you’ll be thrilled with that result. Other times, I really want to beat a certain personal record and I give it all I have. But lately, I find I’m checking in and thinking “You know what, Callie? This, right here, this is good. You are about to finish. You feel good. Who cares if it is 3 minutes faster than last time?” And I’m able to ease into it, enjoy the moment, see the runners passing by, hear their chatter and laughter, really take in the crashing ocean waves and that gorgeous vista ahead. And that’s interesting as someone who used to care deeply about such external validators as published times.

Long distance events show you who you really are and teach you to negotiate with yourself about what you are willing to do at every mile, for as long as the race takes you. Other than regular meditation and yoga, I’ve yet to find an activity like running that requires me to so fully know myself and deal with myself and get over myself and see what I’m made of over and over again, all while under controlled duress.

If you can train your race brain to find that sweet spot between pushing too hard and not hard enough, there is something absolutely magic about seeing what you are made of and realizing that you can reinvent yourself with every mile.

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The Hope of Fans

Giants Clinch for World Series

Not long ago (on October 6th, to be exact) I was lucky enough to be at Game 3 of the NLDS to root for my San Francisco Giants. Before the game, my brother and I were in the Giants Dugout store making our way through the throngs of people picking up, considering, then discarding all the NLDS merchandise that was available now that we’d made it into the divisional series against the Nationals after a some-say-unlikely wild-card win against the Pirates who seemingly had our number all season.

Many of us looked at the NLDS merch and set it back down again. There was a common theme among shoppers: “Eeeh. I’m going to wait until there’s something ELSE to buy.” “I don’t want to buy divisional stuff.” “Let’s wait, honey.” After so many fans set NLDS gear down in favor of standard Giants shirts and hats and jackets, a man behind me remarked loudly: “Giants fans are so spoiled. They don’t even want to by NLDS stuff because they want to go farther. NLCS. World Series. So spoiled. You should feel lucky to be here at all.”

I turned to him and said: “This is not because we are spoiled. This is because we have hope. Hope that we will get farther. A belief that we can do more than what is expected of us.” He smiled. Nodded. Seemed to get it.

And here we are: tonight at 5:07pm the San Francisco Giants play in Game 1 of the World Series.

My oh my aren’t we glad we didn’t settle for feeling lucky enough just to be in the NLDS? Aren’t we glad we thought we could do more? Aren’t we glad we hoped for greatness even in the face of so many injuries and challenges? In the face of all who said we couldn’t do it. Not this year. Not after falling so far back. Not after losing to the Dodgers 17-0 (I was lucky enough to be at that game and I’ll proudly wear that painful badge with pride). Not after facing the hardest path through a wild-card game.

As I’ve said all season: we just need one chance, one way to get into the dance. Once you’re there, it’s what you do with that chance. We beat the Pirates and two series later, we are at the series of all series.

I don’t need to draw all the obvious life parallels and lessons and cliche takeaways. You get the point. Hope is a powerful thing. Perseverance has magical powers. The collective rooting of fans for a team that is collectively giving it all they have is  an honor to play a bit part in – no matter how bit it is. You can call it “just sports” or “just a game” and tell me none of it matters. But it does. All the lessons we learn here matter. Every last one of them. Never allow yourself to be counted out. Never settle for NLDS.

(Image via. David J. Phillip/AP)

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Farewell Candlestick

Farewell CandlestickThree days from now, I get to play a bit part in the new era of Niners football by attending the first-ever 49ers game at Levi’s Stadium. It doesn’t feel right to move on until I say one final word (or many) about Candlestick Park.

How many times can I say goodbye to this lady of so many childhood memories? I said goodbye during Navarro’s “Pick at the Stick” and I snuck in another goodbye for a Montana to DeBartolo TD at Legends of Candlestick. It has been an honor to be a fan at this park for the San Francisco Giants for so many years and the 49ers for all the games of my lifetime so far. To be a fan of both teams in this stadium has been filled with unabashed joy and heartache – both linger in equal measure to this day. This place gave my family, friends and I so much happiness for so many years and I am wistful that many are no longer here to enjoy the next phase.

Thank you Candlestick Park, thank you Giants, thank you 49ers, from the bottom of my heart. This park and your heart and your toughness and your unwillingness to give up in the face of crazy opposition have given me irreplaceable family memories and life lessons. I can’t wait for what’s ahead. On to a new chapter…

Photo taken as I walked away from the last, last, last event I attended – Legends of Candlestick.

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Any Day Could Be a No-Hitter Day

Any Day Could Be a No-Hitter Day

Tim Lincecum hit a no-hitter on Wednesday. The game started like any other. Lincecum went about his business like any other day he would be starting. Did his warm-ups, started the first inning. And the second and the third. Got a few strike-outs, but nothing out of the ordinary. He went about his pitching as usual.

But this day was special and it unfolded before our eyes, though we had no inkling something historic was about to happen.

How many days have we all woken up ho-hum? Just another day, have a lot to get done, time to get at it? And yet the day became something special and we were there to witness it because we were paying attention. Timmy’s no-no reminded me that ANY day has the potential to be truly special. ANY day has the potential to be a no-hitter day.

What changes if we think that every morning when we wake up?

Image via.

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Pursue Joy

Pursue Joy

Today is my 40th birthday. There is much to be said about the preceding years. The lessons learned. The moments of struggle, the moments of great happiness. The incredible people I’ve met along the way and the many I’ve lost far too soon.

I could write whole chapters on all this (and I am, elsewhere, stay tuned) but today it amounts to this: I am who I am because of the experiences of the last forty years.

On a day such as this it’s impossible to not only acknowledge all that has come before, but to think about what lies ahead. What might the next forty years of my life look like?

After careful thought, I’ve come to this: I want more joy in my life.

That is not to say I want to work less hours or less passionately. I am lucky to do work I truly believe in (finally, after so many years of soul-selling) and I can’t believe I get to wake up every morning and do that work. I don’t mean that I’ve somehow led a life without joy. I don’t mean that I want to dramatically alter the direction of my life (though more vacations and more writing should certainly figure in) or that I’m somehow off-track.

What I mean is: there are moments in each day where we have a choice. A choice to get amped up navigating the mundane struggle of daily life. To get crazy frustrated when people don’t believe in the same brand of excellence that you do. To lose your mind when LA traffic ensnares you. To get overwhelmed with the many small decisions that must be made. To get overwhelmed with the very big and very serious decisions that must be made (or that life has unceremoniously made for you.) To worry about the metrics of your business, of your finances, the well-being of your loved ones, the state of the nation, the state of the ozone layer. To get wrapped up in concerns about success and the likelihood of fulfilling all your dreams and what it will mean or not mean if you get there or you don’t. We can choose to let all of this make up our days. Or we can choose joy.

We can seek out joy in the midst of all this. In the midst of LA traffic. In the midst of crazy news about our government. In the midst of heroic and inspiring struggles by those close to us and those we admire and root for from afar. In the midst of crazy HOA meetings in which board members treat you like a fifth grader (truly dizzying, I have to say). In the midst of eight years of roof leaks that your developer won’t fix. In the midst of daily injustices that build up, that create smooth grooves on your soul from repeated wear over time. In the midst of terrible news from nearly every country, every time you see someone suffering, every time you pass a man on the street who needs your help, every time you see a smart young girl who isn’t afforded to same opportunities as her male counterpart. We can be weighed down by it all or we can choose to seek out the joy, though it may glimmer faintly in the distance more often than not.

A little over a year ago, I began hashtagging certain tweets with #pursuejoy as a way to commit myself to seeking out those moments in each day. Sometimes it’s easy. There are days where it all flows and you find much joy all around you. Other days, finding a sliver of joy to celebrate is like groping in the dark without adequate tools, without a sense of where the treasure is hiding. But I am world-weary and, you guessed it, I stopped finding the #pursuejoy moments in my days.

So here’s the deal: I pledge to find at least one #pursuejoy moment every day for the entire year that I am forty. I encourage you to do the same. We can worry about the next year, next year. For now, let’s find a way to do great work, to support the people we love, to help those in need, to do all we can to change the world around us…but to find joy while doing so. And if we can’t find the joy? Let’s create it.

Deal?

Image via.

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Bold Moves

As we enter the NFL free agency period, I’m ready for some splashy moves (this morning’s news of the Percy Harvin trade to Seattle comes to mind; Niners better sort it out during free agency and the draft) and my “whoa” antennae is up as I note some bold moves (note that the formal definition of “bold” is not about a good move or the right approach, but “showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit”) in other industries:

  • Amazon Reaches to Lock Up .Book Domain – And other bookish domains such as .author and .read This is just. Wow. Bold. And overreaching. Ricardo Bilton at Venture Beat offers a succinct glimpse at what would be at stake if such a thing happened: “To use an obvious example, imagine typing ‘LeanIn.book’ and being directed to Amazon’s listing for the book. It’s a powerful branding tool.” More to the point: “Apple, for instance, probably shouldn’t own the rights to .movie, and .app shouldn’t fall into the hands of a company like Google.” Indeed.
  • Sheryl Sandberg Launches LeanIn.Org – Setting aside the hullabaloo surrounding Sheryl’s book and the talk of her (and Marissa Mayer’s) position of privilege (and so how dare she offer insight to working women, so the meme goes), it’s not her book that’s bold but the launch of LeanIn.org, which aims to “offer women the encouragement and support to lean in to their ambitions” that has me sitting up and taking notice. Reminds me of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. Yes, it was a book but it has become a powerful online community that extends far beyond. Will be interesting to see how Sandberg’s bold move plays out over the next few years and if it can increase the number of women in leadership positions. I’ve just joined a LeanIn Circle so, there you go. Hook, line…
  • Google and Adidas Create a Talking Shoe for Fitness Motivation – As the health device market goes bonkers and funding for health startups gets even crazier, Google and Adidas do something that seems a bit retro. The talking shoe? Really? Since Nike+ launched the in-shoe sensor YEARS ago, shoes have been the last place digital health startups are trying to place sensors. Your clothing, your waist, your wrist. But back to shoes again? Hmmm. Also a bold move. Will be very interesting to see if this pans out in what feels like the first mile of what promises to be a 100-mile desert trek over the next few years.
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